2012 MLS, Week 19: What To Watch For

2012 MLS, Week 19: What To Watch For

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On July 12, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Week 19, Features

Toronto is finally finding their form but will it be enough against New England? (Getty Images)

We are rolling on in July as Major League Soccer heads into Week 19 – another busy week to say the very least.

Last night Toronto edged out rivals Vancouver 3-2 thanks to a late goal. The Whitecaps got a brace from rookie Darren Mattocks, a guy that may be working his way up the Rookie of the Year ladder. Vancouver will hope to rebound this weekend on the road in Chicago.

As for the other games going on, here are some items I am looking at keeping a closer eye on this week.

1. Can Philly continue their form? One thing is certain about this Philadelphia Union squad, they are not quitting on their interim manager John Hackworth just yet. After stumbling out of the gate this season with Peter Nowak, the Union have bounced back nicely under Hackworth. Goals are finally coming in from all over and guys like Jack McInernery are finally getting their chance to shine.

This weekend the Union host the expansion Impact. Montreal comes into this game on a bit of a rough stretch – losing three of their last five games. The Union are breathing down their necks in the standings at the moment and could inch their way to being one point back of the Impact. Jesse Marsch has to get his club’s defense back on track and hope that once Alessandro Nesta gets involved that his defense will be on track to contend in the Eastern Conference. I don’t see it happening just yet as they travel to play a hotter Union side. 

2. Is New England really on the up tick? After last weekend’s big win over the New York Red Bulls many are wondering if Jay Heaps and the Revs are on their way up the standings here. Just three points out of the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The offensive improvements with Saer Sene and Jerry Bengtson continue to show this club has definitely moved past the last few years of little to no offense and if the defense can find their way I think this could be a serious threat coming out of the East.

Toronto comes to down this weekend and they are coming off a big 3-2 win last night over Vancouver. The Reds finally showed they can win a game, even one late. Momentum is huge in this league and Toronto does have it right now. They’ll need a little more help from their midfield game though to control the pace of this one in New England. Paul Mariner may have a few tricks up his sleeve against his old club as well.

3. Pareja against his old club. This is something Dallas fans are slowly getting used to here this season. Seeing Oscar Pareja on the Colorado bench, coaching one of their Western Conference rivals. It hasn’t been an easy season for either side as Dallas has battled injuries and suspension while the Rapids are arguably the most inconsistent team in the league. Given how the Rapids are coming off a loss, one has to figure a win could be right around the corner against a Dallas squad that hasn’t won a game in 13 tries and are winless away from Frisco.

Pareja must find a way to get his offense going early in this one. Dallas does a great job of holding teams in the first half. But on the flip side Dallas also needs to find a way to keep Colorado off the board in the second half. The majority of the goals scored on FCD have come in the after the 60th minute. FCD has gotten two shutouts in two out of their last three games and are getting healthier with David Ferreira and Ricardo Villar coming back to fitness. If Dallas can manage to get Brek Shea involved more up top early, they could sneak out with more than a point.

4. Quakes and Salt Lake battle…again. I feel like we’ve been here before with these two, a couple times this season in fact. Still, both are at the top of the standings and are hoping to battle it out one more time this season. San Jose had a rough go of things last week for the first time all season – losing on the road in Portland before picking up a draw in Dallas. The Quakes are a club that still make people worried about how good they really are. After seeing them in person last week you can tell they have talent across the field and really don’t get a ton of respect for the defensive work that they do put in.

Salt Lake on the other hand is making noise on and off the field. It will be interesting to see if newcomer Justin Braun can make any sort of impact on this game. Braun was traded to RSL yesterday from Montreal, a smart pickup for Jason Kreis’ team considering the workload ahead of them in the CCL.

As for this game, it all comes down to which defense can hold the other side off the board. Alvaro Saborio against Chris Wondolowski in the scoring department makes this a must watch.

5. Portland moves on from John Spencer. We’ve seen two clubs make coaching switches this season and so far for Toronto and Philadelphia it has paid off in terms of wins and goals scored. Portland on the other hand may have a little more work to do than the Union and Toronto did with moving on from John Spencer.

Portland needs to do a similar culture change with the way they put a line up on the field under Gavin Wilkenson similar to what has gone on in Philly and Toronto. We know the talent is there with this club, Kris Boyd can score, Danny Mwanga will soon enough do the same. The midfield is decent in the middle but the flank play has always been an issue with this team. Wilkinson will have to find creative ways to get more out of his wide play and spread teams out with the speed that they possess on their roster. This team isn’t that bad when you really look at them as a whole.

The biggest thing to see will be how they respond to the new coach and if they can bounce back against the LA Galaxy – a team that has had their number in the past.

6. Are the Sounders finally back on track? The Seattle Sounders were struggling for weeks. That much was documented by many out there. Last week they scored a big 2-1 win at home against Colorado and last night they dominated Chivas USA 4-1 to advance to the USOC final in August. But is this club “back” on track to where they were a few weeks ago? I think we’re seeing some good gradual movement forward that would suggest that. I don’t want to outright say they are back and will dominate the New York Red Bulls on the road this weekend but one could argue that they could given how the Red Bulls have been as of late.

The thing is with the Sounders – as it is with any club going from one coast to the other on a short turnaround – the let down could be there. Right now the offense is working again though for Sigi Schmid and once everyone else is on the same page I think this club will be back up the Western Conference standings competing for a home field advantage position in the playoffs.

Playing this weekend in New York will be a tough challenge though. The Red Bulls are unbeaten at Red Bull Arena this season and are hoping to break this current skid that they are on (one win in their last five). A lot comes down to the health and play of Thierry Henry. If he is in the lineup, the Red Bulls are a completely different (and better) team.